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[Mechanics’ Institutions] were started by Brougham and Birkbeck in the twenties at a time when, as a writer described it, “there still prevailed in many quarters a strong jealousy of any political discussion by the people, and still more of any society which proposed to assemble periodically several hundreds of the labouring classes”. Hence their founders, in their desire to conciliate opposition, banned political or religious discussion or books, and forbade newspapers. Even so, the St James’ Chronicle could say of the London Mechanics’ Institution in 1825, “A scheme more completely adapted for the destruction of this empire could not have been invented by the author of evil himself than that which the depraved ambition of some men, the vanity of others, and the supineness of a third and more important class, has so nearly perfected.” Even their advocates felt a certain need for apology...

Would someone please explain and elucidate the long bolded sentence? How to decompose/parse it? For example, how can you rearrange, reorganise, or simplify it to try to understand it?

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Even so, the St James’ Chronicle could say of the London Mechanics’ Institution in 1825, “A scheme more completely adapted for the destruction of this empire could not have been invented by the author of evil himself than that which the depraved ambition of some men, the vanity of others, and the supineness of a third and more important class, has so nearly perfected.”

A scheme = a plan or strategy

more completely adapted for the destruction of the empire = better able to destroy the empire

could not have been invented by the author of evil himself = could not have been dreamed up by the devil himself (Author of Evil)

more completely adapted is a comparative that requires a "than" clause (better than)

than that (i.e. than that scheme) which has been perfected by the depraved ambition of some men, the vanity of others, and the supineness (i.e. inaction) of a third ... class

The Author of Evil himself could not have invented a scheme more completely adapted for the destruction of this empire than that (scheme) which the depraved ambition of some men, the vanity of others, and the supineness of a third...class has have so nearly perfected.

NOTE: One could point out that the original passage has an error of agreement-in-number: multiple subjects (ambition, vanity, supineness) and a singular verb "has perfected". But perhaps the author was thinking of them as a confluence. Another possibile explanation is that the author was a windbag who got lost in his own rhetoric.

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A simple way to look at it is:

Comparison of the idea of Mechanics' Institutions to a destructive ploy that would do nothing more than destroy the British empire and its strong foundation of labor.

"A scheme more completely adapted for the destruction of this empire...."

Further emphasis on the evil nature as an eviler ploy could not have been invented by "the author of evil" which is another comparison to the devil or a symbol even more representative of evil

"...could not have been invented by the author of evil himself than that which the..."

The corrupt ambition of some men, the excessive pride of others, and the weakness (supine nature: willing to be controlled by others (1) ) of a third important class (the working class/labor) that no one other than the inventors of this institution has thought of till now.

"...depraved ambition of some men, the vanity of others, and the supineness of a third and more important class, has so nearly perfected"

The entire focus of the sentence is to highlight how the Mechanics Institutions were frowned upon by the St James' Chronicle due to the fact that it went against the British focus in labor with promises to replace working man with machines and technology. The idea of the Institutions was accused of being a corrupt one that was pushed forth by the vanity that supposedly existed in the founders of the Institutions, whilst the working/laborer class was made to seem like a passive crowd through the use of the word supine as it denotes a passive and less opposing side to the people that were supporting the British development through their manual work.

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